A NEW Year party to mark the opening of the first phase of a £250,000 woodland in Witney takes place on Saturday.

The Wychwood Project is creating a new 22-acre community wood on former farmland off Foxburrow Lane on the northern outskirts of the town.

The first phase of the project, to create an entrance and welcome trail, has been completed and the party is being held to celebrate its opening.

The trail features a small car park, newly-planted trees, shrubs and wild flowers, along with benches and a pond.

Project director Nick Mottram said: “I hope this project will be a landmark feature that will allow people to experience woodland on their doorstep.”

Mr Mottram added: “The welcome trail gives a place for people to get into the woodland and is suitable for people with pushchairs and wheelchairs.

“It’s an entrance that says ‘come in and enjoy it’.”

Work on Foxburrow Wood began two years ago after the project bought the former farmland the previous year.

Saturday’s event at the wood runs from 11.30am to 2.30pm, with refreshments and mulled wine on offer to visitors.

Foxburrow Wood is just off the B4022 Hailey Road and can also be reached on foot and by bicycle along Milking Lane, off Witney Road and Crawley Road.

Mr Mottram said: “We thought a party would be a great way to celebrate the new year.

“Everyone is feeling a bit fed up now that Christmas is over, so we thought why not have a party to welcome the new year in style.”

Witney mayor Harry Eaglestone said: “It’s absolutely fantastic news that the welcome trail is opening. It’s very important that we keep as much green space around Witney as we can.”

Picture: OX56473 Ric Mellis